The Top 6 Design Tips For 3D Metal Printing

MEDIA & INSIGHTS

3D printing continues to become more popular. While 3D printing remains the most obvious choice for designing prototypes, it has also garnered attention for other uses. 3D metal printing has become widespread in the automobile, aviation, construction, and medical industries. Research shows that 3D printing can double the strength of stainless steel compared to traditional manufacturing methods, making it a viable option for many manufacturers.

Statistics show the 3D metal printing market was worth approximately $147.2 million in 2018. Experts predict the market will be worth roughly $800 million by 2026, growing exponentially at a compound annual growth rate of 23.5 percent between 2019 and 2026.

However, if there’s one thing manufacturers must understand, 3D metal printing is easier said than done. 3D metal printing can bring designs previously thought impossible to fruition, but doing so requires an expert understanding of 3D metal design.

The Top Design Tips for 3D Metal Printing

Here are some top design tips for 3D metal printing. They include:

 

Design for Metal 3D Printing

Consider designing products or items specifically for 3D metal printing. 3D metal printing significantly differs from conventional manufacturing. You’ll only face frustration and failure if you try to adopt a design that requires CNC machining, pressure die casting, or plastic injection molding.

Optimize Your Design According to Your Machine

Optimizing your design according to your machine is also crucial. Identify your machine’s type, dimensions, and capabilities before designing. Design rules don’t apply equally to machines because each 3D printer has different configurations and capabilities. Optimizing your design for your machine is easier and cheaper than replacing your device.

Identify Critical Dimensions

It’s also essential to identify critical dimensions. 3D printers generally have higher precision in planes than build plates. That’s because the print heads approximate cross-sections of a feature better when flat on the print bed than building it up in a layer-based printing process.

 

Therefore, it’ll serve you well to identify your product’s critical dimensions. Consider optimizing the design. Doing so will ensure it lays flat or parallel to your machine’s print bed.

Maximize Bed Contact

Try to ensure you maximize bed contact when 3D metal printing. Ideally, you’ll want your product to align with the print bed because it results in shorter print times and improved sintering performance. It also reduces the support needed, meaning you’ll require less print time and material usage. Furthermore, consider putting top-heavy parts at the base of the print bed. Doing so will reduce their likelihood of toppling over during sintering.

Reduce Supports

Reducing support can lead to improved printing and processing times. Although supports are necessary to prevent collapses during printing and sintering, you can reduce supports by incorporating features like chamfers and fillets on edges to reduce the support needed. Doing so will also reduce material usage.

Utilize Batch Processing

Ideally, you’ll want to pack as many parts or products as possible into a sintering run. Doing so will reduce the cost per part because you’re producing larger volumes and gaining economies of scale.